Friday, February 29, 2008
Jesus never tried to get people to follow him under false pretenses. He was honesty personified. “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” Mark 8:34.
He never used the word easy as a ploy to win a following. He leveled with us. He knew there would be times along the way when we would grow weary, discouraged and disheartened. He entertained no romantic notions of discipleship. He knew the physical pain and mental hardships, the loss of loved ones, the failure of people we look up to and admire would take its toll.
Loneliness, rejection and abandonment would sap our spirits and the day would come when faith would no longer offer any assurance, drive or comfort. We echo the sentiments of St. Teresa of
The Christian life is a sacred journey. The travails of travel are endured on a daily basis. We never reach a point when we can accurately say that we have finished the journey, at least not on this side of heaven. We do not arrive until life on this side of earth is ended. It takes a radical decision on God’s terms to get from here to eternity.
A radical decision does not make us perfect. The climb to the top of the mountain top is long and arduous. It is a long haul, there are no short cuts. The climb begins with a decision to go for the top. Failures and setbacks are inevitable. Failure does not deter us. We pick ourselves up with the grace of God, dust ourselves off and start again. Follow me, stake your life on me and go for broke. And our response is to keep on keeping on.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Many of us are terrified to speak God's Revealed Truth, in case we upset our neighbour. So rather than speak the Truth many instead take the option of the fence sitter, who simply wants to get along with everyone. This is a perverted form of loving one's neighbour for it is in essence a love of oneself, in that the focus is not your neighbours well being but rather one's own.
There is a great fear shared by many people that if we correct another we are then 'judging' them. This is a misalignment of compassion for to not correct another if we know them to be committing a serious sin is to leave them open to the Judgment of God. What many don't understand is that when we fail to correct another who is going astray, we also stand condemned for it is not love that stops us from speaking the Truth, but fear.
There are many people who instead of living to please God instead place their emphasis on being pleasing to man even if that means condoning sinful lifestyle choices, vulgar and crude behaviour or immodesty. They accept all this not in a spirit of love but in a spirit of fear, this springs from the enemy who incites us to fear that our friends will turn against us if we correct them. When correction is done in the right spirit then none should take offense but instead we should feel grateful that our mistakes or misconceptions have been corrected.
We must face the fact that no-one likes to be corrected, as President Harry Truman once said, "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it is hell." This is the same with our friends, they may not wish to hear the Truth but that should not prevent us from speaking it.
When we stand by our principles and what we believe to be true, then we become a beacon of light in a world grown dark with sin, as someone once said, "Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you."
To worry over what others may think of you is to lose focus on why we are Christians and it is not so that we can gain friends and influence people, as Thomas Kempis reminds us, "Great tranquility of heart is his who cares for neither praise nor blame." When we spend inordinate time worrying over what others think of us, what does this say about our level of Faith and what we hold to be true? Even if our friends turn away from us it should matter not if we have spoken the Truth with compassion and love.
We must abide with each other in our faults and failings in full knowledge that none of us are perfect but what we cannot do is accommodate sin as if it were merely a trifle.
Sin is not a fault. It is not a failing. It is a choice.
Rather than wonder what will the neighbours think if you speak God's Truth? Ask yourself what will God think if you stay silent?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
At times we must also take responsibility for our own health, and not blame God, when through bad decisions or bad habits we become ill. For instance, smoking is now well known for causing cancer, and other complications. Abusing alcohol will also hold serious consequences when it comes to the liver and brain. Food too can be hazardous when we overeat the wrong foods which can lead to obesity, and the ensuing complications that goes with it. If we behave immorally and lead a dissolute life then we also open ourselves to other diseases that will attack our body.
But when illness does strike, then God will not let us think that we have become `useless' and a `burden', instead He leads us into expiation and reparation for our sins and the sins of others. For nothing we do is `useless' to our Father in Heaven, and everything is `gift' to Him who needs us not, yet longs for our love with the deepest of yearnings. God will help us as we suffer to join Jesus in the redemptive power of the suffering soul to intercede and in reparation offer our sufferings to Him, who is all Powerful, for the salvation of souls. That great Saint and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila understood totally the Gift that can be reparative suffering for as she wrote, "Lord, either to suffer or to die....Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."
Suffering only becomes a useless thing when we do not utilise the redemptive qualities of illness, and choose to resent rather than consent on this painful journey of total dependence on our Loving Father. God legitimises suffering as Holy, thereby bestowing and restoring our uniqueness and our value in His Loving Plan for the redemption of all men.
So illness in itself is not a gift from God, but it can be our gift to Him, when we incorporate the self sacrifice of the One who showed the Way, to pick up our cross, and with courage and fortitude, say as did our Lord, "not my will, but Your Will be done"…even it is one step at a time. As Mother Teresa explained to those who did not understand the connection between suffering people and how God can use our own pain and anguish for His Glory, expressed it this way, "Without our suffering, our work would be just social work - it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption."
As our society leans more and more towards a culture of death we can see the aspect of souls lost due to those who refuse the Gift of suffering and instead choose to end their lives not in an act of 'mercy killing' but in a spirit of despair that has locked God out of the equation.
If through illness you are unable to visit the sick or give of your time to the lonely, do not despair or feel worthless. Instead embrace your cross and unite your suffering with the Man of Sorrows on behalf of sinners, just as the Master did before you.
To suffer for loves sake is to become one with the Divine, an embrace of unequal love as God lifts us to Himself as He immerses us in the fiery depths of His Tremendous Love.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Over the past two weeks I have been watching the BBC documentary 'A Year with the Queen.' It is a documentary not only about the Queen but also how the Monarchy is run and those who help grease the wheels, and make it all come together.
The one thing that struck me is how open the Queen is when dealing with her face to face as the photographer Annie Leibovitz found. The Queen is herself, she doesnt hide behind 'image makers' or put on a false nicey nicey air. At times she can be irritable and it showed, which is refreshing.
What I admire most about Queen Elizabeth II is the way she has remained unspoiled. When considering she was born in an age where Royalty were above criticism and were basically fawned over, yet the Queen retained her normality.
Another aspect I admire is her common sense, especially in this age of political correctness where any lunatic idea seems to hold sway. The Queen remains the same, steadfast, honest, true to herself and above all, duty first.
Considering that she came to the Throne at only 25 years of age, upon the death of her beloved father. Queen Elizabeth II has done an admirable job.
Even if you havent seen this documentary, what elements of the Queen's character do YOU admire? Or are you Anti-Monarchy?
Here are the rules
M is for moment. I tend to live for the moment, I spend little time ruminating over the past and no time worrying about the future.
A is for appreciation. To appreciate those moments when the kindness of another gives a glimpse of the Divine.
R is for reflection. I can spend hours in reflection over something I have read in the blogsphere or in a book. Or sometimes when looking at Mother Nature itself.
I is for incisive. I tend to cut through a lot of meandering and go straight to the point. Er can I have two in this..Impatience lol.
E is for extraordinary. I love seeing the extraordinary in everyday ordinariness if that makes sense?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Often times we think we love God to our utmost being, but do we? During Lent I have read where many have decided to abstain from their favourite foods or beverages, which is a good thing, but it doesnt affect God one iota.
Did Jesus die to teach us to go without sugar or cream?
To try and at least see God through a thick fog of incomprehension we must recognise His Majesty.
This is a God who Created the Heavens above, galaxy upon galaxy both seen and unseen by man's limited eye. A God who Created all things on this earth which we all take for granted. The sun rises because God Wills it. The moon shines its pearly whiteness against the blackened sky because God ordered it's design.
A butterfly floats past, it's gossamer wings spread in all its colourful glory as it moves with the breeze, and we barely see it. The ants which seem to run in a scurrying hurry with no particular purpose as they run from one place to another and we step on them.
A baby's scream pierces the air as the Doctor brings it forth from its mothers womb, and both mother and father weep as they behold their beloved and longed for child.
A mother screams in anguish as she holds the body of her malnourished child as the child breathes it's last, in a world grown indifferent from the suffering of others.
It is 4PM and the air is charged with expectation as parents wait, every now and again they will surreptitiously look at the clock on the wall. Will today be different? Will today be THE day? By 6PM they no longer look at the clock as with bowed heads and heavy hearts they realise they are the forgotten one's.
To love God is to love the least amongst us.
Our love for God is measured by how we care for the forgotten and unloved amidst our own communities.
Are we indifferent to Christ's Passion?
We can spend copious hours in prayer contemplating Christ's Passion whilst ignoring the passion of those who have been forgotten or rejected by society.
Prayer is not about getting it IS about giving. Prayer should compassionate our hearts, soften our rugged harsh edges till we in our own dark abyss understand, WE are the poor for our love is limited.
We shake our heads at the heartlesness of the world around us. We see the suffering in Darfur or Rwanda feel pity for those poor people. But is our hearts rent asunder?
We go about our daily business as baby upon baby are torn from their mothers womb and tossed in the incinerator. Their unheard screams reach Heaven, 'how long Lord, how long?'
Still, God waits for us to care. To give. To love, selflessly. To love till it costs because He did.
Are you indifferent to Christ's Passion?
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Hell does exist, the Bible speaks of hell as does the Catholic Church, yet hell has also become an uncomfortable teaching, why is this so?
We are given warnings about what awaits those who refuse to believe in the existance of hell and therefore live their lives with no accountability and a refusal to repent from sins which have angered God.
Another great and grave danger is when people resign themselves to spending time in Purgatory, mainly because they do not wish to amend their ways even though by their continuous wrongful actions they are challenging God's Justice. If you know your behaviour is unacceptable to God and you refuse to amend or sincerely repent of your sin, then you will be lucky indeed to escape hell fire. To continue to sin in the belief that God will be merciful is to presume on God's Mercy this is not meritorious it is indeed presumption.
If the Bible and the Catholic Catechism are not enough we also have our Saints who through the Mercy of God also warns us of hell. As Saint Faustina writes in her diary, "Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one's condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own....I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence."
We need to understand in order to obtain and gain God's Mercy we must seek it with all our hearts, mind and soul and then go and sin NO more. We know that Jesus came for the sick to heal them of their wounds, he mixed with the sinner but did not become defiled by their proximity. But our Lord did not come to Save us, only for us to return once again in full knowledge and consent to that self same sin.
Ask yourself when was the last time your Priest gave a sermon on sin and the effects it will have on your soul? When did your Priest warn you of the consequences of unrepentant and unconfessed sin? When has your Priest spoken about hell? Also for parents when was the last time you spoke to your children of hell and the consequences of their unrepentant sins? When was the last time you spoke of chastity, purity and holiness to your children?
In the words of St. Leonard of Port Maurice, "To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable."
(Scripture Isaiah 14:9-15, Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 9:1-2, Revelation 20:1-15/ CCC 1033- 1037. Divine Mercy In My Soul-St. Faustina Kowalska )
Written by Marie
With China's economy growing by an average nine per cent a year for the past decade, Africa has become an important source of mineral resources, agricultural products, timber and, most important of all, oil.
China undoubtedly has leverage over Africa and has directly benefited from it. But is it prepared to use its leverage to achieve political and human rights changes?
When the true horror of Darfur became clear to the world many foreign oil companies opted to leave Sudan, pressured by activists and governments in North America and Europe. China's state-owned oil companies felt no such pressure and quickly stepped into the breach. China soon became the single largest investor in Sudan, mainly in its oil sector. Military hardware followed, soon becoming a major export. Read More by clicking HERE.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Written by Marie
I have been given a book tag by Andrea. So here goes lol.
"The meeting had great political significance. Since 1881 Austria, Germany and Russia had been linked by 'The Three Emporers League,' renewed for three years in 1884. Germany and Austria then turned their dual alliance into a triple alliance by including Italy in 1882."
From 'Little Mother of Russia- The Empress Marie Feodorovna.'
I tag anyone who has the time and wishes to do this fun Meme.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This is a piece I wrote a couple years ago, it’s a bit long but the points I highlighted are still very relevant and even more evident today.
Ah yes! Valentine day is upon us. It’s the time for chocolate, roses and stuffed animals. Cupid is busing himself shooting arrows, the devil is singing and the cash registers are going “cha-ching.” Sex toys are out in all their glory, condom advertisements have been quadrupled, hotels are offering packages for couples to come and share an “intimate” evening and night and the kinky lingerie has turned from scraps to floss. We hear people saying Valentine day has lost its meaning as far as “love” is concerned but the harsher reality is what it has turned into…. a day and night in honor of vices.
Far too many young people choose this day to give away one of their most precious gifts, their virginity. They plan for months to make this night oh so perfect for their first time. Some will argue, hey they don’t even wait and plan for Valentine day but the fact remains that far to many use this “holiday” as an avenue to entice their partner into giving up something that should be saved for your beloved spouse on your wedding night. Just do it….. on your wedding night. I am not saying to get married for the sake of having sex “within” marriage, marriage is not to be taken lightly nor is having sex. It’s not even called sex, its called “making love”.
Almost laughable. For starters what is dubbed “making love” is more often than not, brutal, perverse and downright degrading to those partaking in the act. God created us above the animals yet some humans choose to behave like animals, not even like animals but worse than them. What was created to be a beautiful union of a man and a woman, yes a man and a woman, has been twisted and misshaped into something that people either well are ashamed of or just don’t care about.
And yup that deceiver of all deceivers is behind it all. We have those who think that sex is this bad thing and cringe at the mention of the word, oh no not me, not sex! I can understand where it stems from but it is not right to think that sex is something bad and wrong. Anything created by God is indeed good, its how man has taken something beautiful and turned it into something that people are ashamed of. Then there are the I don’t even know how to describe them, people who just casually and yes its casual, have sex anywhere, anytime, any place with anyone. Sex to them is like frogs jumping from one lily pad to the next, before you bat your eyelid it’s another partner.
Oh how it pains me to see something so precious and sacred, used and abused for selfish desires. The brutality and the pervasiveness stems from a selfish desire to satisfy self…the ME me me, its all about me syndrome. You say you love me and I love you, so let’s “make love” because we are in love. But let’s consider another option, I love you and will not have sex with you or anyone else until marriage because I love and respect you so much that I will deny my selfish desires. WOW! Now isn’t this love, denial of SELF for love of me. I’ll take it!
We have been so foolishly led to believe that the way to show we love someone is to shower them with gifts, expensive gifts at that. Who said that a guy has to give a gal flowers and chocolate and jewellery to prove that he loves her? So what if the guy really can’t afford to buy you something, are we gals so self-centered that we would pressure the guy and keep reminding him, “hon Valentine day is coming up, don’t forget the diamonds! The bigger the better, and if I don’t get it you know you ain’t getting “it” either.”
So that’s what we have come to, using sex to get what we want and have turned heartfelt expressions into the more dollars spent the more I “love” and appreciate you. There is a word for this, witchcraft, manipulating someone to have our way. There is nothing new under the sun, I think it’s just that this generation does everything in the open. I mean to walk through a mall and see stores specializing in ‘adult toys”. And this is not limited to the so-called generation X, there are many married people who have these “toys”. Would really love to know how you would explain one of these toys to your four year old who just happens to find one of your “tools” lying around. What would you say?
And the media that gives us so much information, too much information at times, we don’t hear them saying anything. Why would they have anything to say, I mean Valentine day advertisements and sales boost just about every sector of the economy! Let’s see, the kinky lingerie, yah need the cloth, well I beg to differ, these things I can use to floss my teeth and still need some real floss to finish cleaning my teeth for there being a lack of cloth! So there is a demand for the materials needed to make this lingerie. This would include the energy sector, the public sector, have all the taxes etc etc to pay and lets not forget the private sector. The wholesalers and the retailers, the stores and the media, big bucks for advertisements!
Commercialize it more and more, make them spend more and more, money they don’t even have, make them want more and more and not be able to satisfy our gluttonous appetites for wanting everything. The master puppeteer, pulling and tugging at us, making us dance to his music, without even realizing that it is part of his “master plan.” Pulls a cover over our eyes and make us go and do everything based on selfish desires.
So yes I reach to the “ah its okay to have sex cause we are doing it the ‘safe way’ excuse.” The condom….tsk tsk tsk. Safe sex right. Wrong. Okay the downside of the condom, who would have thought that there is a downside to using a condom, well there is. Let’s see, a sperm cell which is couple thousand times larger than a virus cell can pass through the “wall” of the condom. Safe isn’t it, very safe. So parents give their children these safety “tools” and pat themselves on the back, “yes I have done something good! Three cheers for me, my kids are going to be safe now! Hey if they are going to do it anyway they might as well be safe! Yeah a round of applause for me!!!”
I mean far be it to suggest to your kids, “hon you should wait until your honeymoon night to give your precious gift of virginity to your beloved.” Oh no no no! We treat virginity as if it is some sort of plague, like if you don’t have sex now like lightening is gonna strike yah down or you will break out in a rash or get spasms or something. We tell our boys, “son to be a man you have to plant your seeds, spread them far and wide. Then and only then are you da man!”
And our girls, we encourage them to give in cause we say, “well they are in ‘love’ and the only way to keep the guy around if for you to have sex with him.” you know the excuse of well “I much rather know and be able to ‘protect’ them rather than not know and have them NOT doing it the ‘safe way’.
So why is the fact that there isn’t any such thing as having safe sex using a condom not being advertised? Well the condom industry entices the medical industry to say nothing about it cause lets see, if more people come down with STD’s, that’s more people who will require treatment and drugs. Ahhh the mighty dollar sign! We spend loads of money to buy these condoms then pay the rest of our lives cause our “safety apparatus” was faulty. Puppets dancing to the control and music of the master puppeteer on a stage set up by him.
It’s the day to wine, dine and “romance” each other, manipulate our partners into buying us stuff and then manipulate our partners into “giving” us stuff because we spent big bucks on them. Love is not an erotic, impulsive emotion, it is something that is part of the will and true love is only willed by one who is being fed true affection and appreciation by genuine, heartfelt expressions that comes from the will of another. Call me a prude but Cupid better aim his arrow somewhere else.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A study on human behavior was carried out at
Temptation is part of the human condition. Only us humans can be tempted. A bird can fly in the sky but it cannot be tempted. A dog is man’s best friend but he cannot be God’s best friend in the way we are. To be human is to be tempted. The temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden and the temptation of Jesus in the desert is the story of every man and woman under the sun.
Times have changed but human nature has not. We have a tendency to blame someone else and we are full of excuses. There is a failure to accept personal responsibility. It’s always someone else who drove me to do it! The implication is this: I am not to blame for my actions, you are to blame. Sadly we can go through life blaming others for our sins. Blaming others makes us feel better but it changes nothing inside us.
Is there anything unique about being human? Well, man is the only animal that blushes or better said, man is the only animal with good reason to blush. What was the first thing Adam and Eve did when they realized that they had sinned was that they knew that they were naked. They were ashamed and hid themselves. They were blushing! When we sin we are not blushing, we are denying our humanity. We are being amoral. Nowadays we hear a lot about human rights. We stand up for our rights but it is not enough for us to simply proclaim our rights, we must go further and also proclaim our responsibilities. We are responsible for our actions unless we are criminally insane and morally incapable.
Think of how different the outcome would have been if Adam and Eve instead of running off and going into hiding and blaming someone else had turned to God and said “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” Instead of it being the fall of mankind it would have been the rise of mankind. Let us stop pretending all is well and good. Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand. Let us confess to Papa God, “Forgive me Father, I’m not perfect, I’m no angel. I’m not as innocent as I look. I’m weak. I’m fallible. I’m a sinner. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Have mercy on me Father, a sinner.” This is being human and Christian. We are telling the truth and telling the truth is a sign of strength not weakness.
Temptation goes with territory, it goes with being free. We have choices and we are who we are because of our choices. Temptation is always a choice between two alternatives, good and evil. In the desert we see Jesus chose the tremendous, to lay down His life for his friends and to live for others not himself. There are things in life worth living and dying for. He invites us to follow His way. We know His way has been tried and know His way is sure.
Temptation offers us the opportunity, in the desert of life to choose what is good, noble and beautiful and to leave behind the world of instant gratification and opt instead for the less, not the more traveled road because that is the well trodden road that Jesus went down. This is the road that leads to the slow, painful death of ego, selfishness and self-indulgence which leads to the fullness of life and glory.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Some of the greatest Saints of the Catholic Church led lives of spiritual aridity, and suffered great persecutions even from within their own families and Religious Orders. But even though their souls were immersed in the depths of darkness, where they were deprived of all consolations, yet they did not fall into despair.
It is these souls who learned to love God for who He IS, rather than what He could give them. It is these privileged souls who held within their hearts, the Pearl of Great Price. They did not seek after the glitter or the glory of their encounter with the Divine. In fact most of these noble Saints were silent about their struggles and inner aridity.
Those who seek spiritual 'highs' are in most danger of falling into despair, for it is not God they seek, but the 'feelings' of exultation through the manipulations of emotions, rather than their dependence on God. This hunger for spiritual 'highs' is a form of unhealthy spirituality.
Before the soul can reach this Mystical completeness with God, they must first be purified. This is a very painful experience as the soul undergoes a withering heat which burns away their love of worldly things and longing for attention. It is a holocaust of the heart as God purifies the soul so as to occupy it. This happens so that no longer do you live but Christ lives within you.
The great Mystics of our Faith eschew any longing for 'feelings.' They recognise that these 'feelings' will lead them astray, from the purpose of which God is drawing them into union with the Divine.
Neither do these great Mystics promote a cold 'detachment' in that a soul who is on fire for love of God is not cold towards others, but deeply humbled towards all. There is much misunderstanding in what detachment is: we are to become detached from a longing of 'things' but not to foster a coldness or chilliness towards anyone. Detachment is to appreciate that all things made by God is good but they do not become dependent upon the created, but, instead they remain dependent upon the Creator.
God's Love is a fiery furnace which consumes the soul completely, without nullifying the uniqueness of the individual. The Church has had many Mystics, but, no two have been the same, in that St. Catherine of Siena is not St. Therese of Lisieux, yet both are Mystics of the one Faith.
In order for God to work within the soul uninterrupted He first has to empty the soul of any egoism, emotionalism and attachments. The soul in effect becomes an empty vessel and it is then that God fills the empty vessel with the Essence of the Divine. This does not 'divinize' the person, but it does make them a living reflection of the Triune Spirit, indwelling within them.
In the end it is the Mystic who dies to self will, and arises with the spark of the Divine Love, which then spills itself out for love of others. In this they can truly say 'I have been Crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.'
Written by Marie
Friday, February 8, 2008
Sometimes we can become confused over what charity is. We tend to think it is a giving of 'things' to those who cannot afford to buy these 'things' for themselves. Yes, that is a charitable act to give food, clothes and other essentials to those in need.
Charity is also Spirit, which brings forth the little things, those small acts of love which we can do but out of self-consciousness we fail to do.
There is also the case that many mothers and fathers simply do not have the time to spend an hour with the lonely and oppressed and this is perfectly understandable and reasonable. Even this can be turned around when you look at things through the inspiration of the Divine.
We are not called to make grand gestures or to give what we cannot afford so we can give the appearance of being generous.
Give from the heart.
Many of us have to do grocery shopping, when was the last time you thanked the check out assistant? Have you ever thought about phoning the store manager and letting him/her know how helpful you found a particular worker or workers?
Nearly all Parishes have a sick list have you considered making home made cards with your children to send to those who need the uplift? A kind word or to know that someone is praying for them?
God doesnt need grand gestures from us, but when we do these little acts of kindness it rings out in Heaven like a symphony of such beauty that God fills our own hearts with the Grace we need to Love as He does.
To give from the heart, is a Gift that is priceless, because it comes not from you but from God Himself.
Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. (Isaiah 58:5-11)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I was inspired to write this piece because of a post I read over at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars. I expanded on the issue.
What can I give up for God?
This is the one sentence that many Catholics say that I just dont 'get.' After all, what can we give God?
A God who created the universe, galaxy upon galaxy, planets including our own planet earth and who also Created that which man's eyes has not yet beheld.
So what can we give up for God?
Will it matter to God if you go without sugar during Lent? Or if you give up putting cream in your coffee? Is this what Lent is all about? Going without cream or sugar?
Rather than think 'what can I give up for God,' turn it around and say, 'what can I do with God?' How can I give as God gives?
What do we prize most? Our time. We have time to spend on the computer, we make time to watch our favourite programes on TV. We set aside time to read our favourite books.
How much time do we spend visiting the sick, the lonely and the oppressed?
This Lent think about making a difference in someone else's life. Spend your time giving your company to one who is lonely and abandoned, those poor elderly souls sitting lonely and unloved in nursing homes. It is these wonderful gentlefolk who have become the West's, 'untouchables.'
Forget about going without sugar or cream but rather give of your time to one who needs you right now. Spend an hour a week where it matters, giving yourself to another because you love.
Give Love and Love will give to you.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Lent is the Springtime of the Church year, a period of preparation for Easter. God's gift to us in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Spirit of life in all its fullness, but we know that there remains an undertow in daily life which carries us away into negativity and forgetfulness. Our lives become old again. We need an annual review.
Perhaps, however, it is not so strange that Lent has not caught the popular mood. Center stage for us is our individual consumption of life, each of us operating on his own profile and image to produce a trimmer, more effective figure. If a person takes up religion in this mood, then it is because God is an asset in this process.
By contrast, the Christian faith promises new life, life in all its fullness to those who open themselves up to God, emptying themselves so that they can be filled with the life that flows from Him.
The Christian Lent is not a time for reinventing the self by a supreme effort. It is a time for opening up to God and seeing through some of the shadows inside us. Jesus the Anointed One faced a crescendo of temptations from desert, to temple wall, to high mountain. He saw through the daydreams about power and possession and emerged equipped by the Spirit for His work.
The Spirit drove him into the wilderness which is indeed a place for confronting oneself at depth. The desert is a great leveler and revealer. Lent is not about my digging about in my darkest self and dwelling there, it is about moving on more deeply into intimacy with God, coming home to God the source of all goodness, light and love.
Lent is the season of deepening intimacy with Jesus. An exciting time. Jesus came because of the great love for me, for all of us. Jesus stayed and Jesus died for love of me, for all of us. A pure gift from the Lover to us the beloved. What did we ever do to deserve this love? Nothing! – again the irony. We have not earned this love, but are continually invited, coaxed and being lured into this rich and holy relationship. I will come to know, God will reveal my brokenness and that I am lovable and I will want to give back, to respond lovingly to this free love.
Lent is a time for reducing some of the chronic over-stimulation which is so much a part of modern living, a time when we protect ourselves a little more from the daily bombardment of images and stimuli, the pressures which keep us trapped on the surface. You will know the pressure points in your own lives, but now is the time for deciding how to use this Lent.
Perhaps by not reading so many newspapers, hearing so much, watching so much, consuming so much, so that we can be liberated from the sick hurry which dulls our capacity to hear the still small voice. Perhaps it is the time to live more simply in order to tighten up the drum skin, so that God's drumbeat can be heard more clearly in our lives. Perhaps it is a time for carving out some solitude so that we can become aware of those senses which are deadened in daily life. The choice is yours. You have to decide what is most relevant. Just giving up chocolate, which can be resumed in a great binge on Easter Day, does little good and can easily fill us with an unhelpful sense of spiritual achievement.
Lent is an opportunity for Springtime cleansing and we can encourage one another in observing it. Let us walk with Jesus these next 40 days, beg to share in His joys and friendships, as well as His sufferings, trials, and betrayals and to invite Jesus into our sufferings, trials, and betrayals, as well as our joys.
This is the good news of Jesus: Come with Me, walk with Me, eat with Me, laugh and weep with Me. And I with you. Be not afraid. Let Me tell you, about you. Listen with your heart. Come to me, I love you.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Keep us from being preoccupied with money and worldly goods, and with trying to increase them at the expense of justice.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." Help us not to be ruthless with one another, and to eliminate the discord and violence that exists in the world around us.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Let us not be impatient under our own burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled." Make us thirst for you, the fountain of all holiness, and actively spread your influence in our private lives and in society.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Grant that we may be quick to forgive and slow to condemn.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." Free us from our senses and our evil desires, and fix our eyes on you.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Aid us to make peace in our families, in our country, and in the world.
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for the kingdom of heaven in theirs." Make us willing to suffer for the sake of right rather than to practice injustice; and do not let us discriminate against our neighbors and oppress and persecute them.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
A child of the Daju tribe of South-Western
Home was a simple hut, mud-walled and millet stalk-thatched, but happy and loving, with parents, three brothers and four sisters, one of whom was Bakhita's own twin.
All was lost to her when the slave traders kidnapped her when she was seven years old. Stripped of the most fundamental human right - personal freedom and dignity - Bakhita endured physical, emotional and spiritual deprivation. There were long forced marches in slave caravans from Olgossa, her village, to El Obied and the slave markets there, then on to
Blessed are those who mourn ...
The little one, mockingly re-named Bakhita, "The Lucky One", suffered loneliness and torture ... Yet, even reduced to conditions inhuman, Bakhita always knew a certain sense of hope ... in what or whom she could not say ... then. But somewhere, she knew not how then, she found the strength to live each fearful, miserable, terror-filled day with courage.
Blessed are the gentle ...
Not even slavery, however, could destroy her natural sensitivity and gentleness, that quality of heart that knows compassion. In the midst of her own pain and suffering, and impotent as she was, she could still care about others, commiserate with them, be with them.
This trait she carried with her even when her path led her out of Africa to
Whether it was simply offering a drink to a sister in community or a bowl of hot soup to the poor, watching over kindergarten children or tending the wounded during the war, every action was done with love, serenity and gentleness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ...
The one who considered herself "a slave, and an object owned by her masters", never took advantage of her masters' property, even under the worst circumstances and the greatest need. Slave duties were executed with responsibility and an innate sense of justice.
Even before she came to know "the good of God", she also sensed that there was a higher Power who was in control of every matter under heaven. Because she lived continually in the search of events unfolding around so as to find the key to encountering this Power, her heart was open and ready when God revealed Himself to her.
Blessed are the merciful ...
One would expect that with all that she had undergone, Bakhita would have suffered severe emotional or psychological scarring. But the Madre Moreta, the "Brunette Mother" as she was affectionately called, was able to see in each painful wound, each traumatic memory, stepping stones in the path that led to God - hidden blessings every one. Hers was the gift of a "purified memory", transformed and transfigured, experienced as a blessing.
This is why she was able to forgive her kidnappers and those who tortured her. She bore no resentment towards them and prayed with great passion for their well-being.
Blessed are the pure in heart ...
As her relationship with the unseen God grew, so too did her capacity to enter into communion with God. She was able to see the hand of God in all the events of daily life.
Even as her physical health failed, her spirit grew brighter and stronger. Prayer was spent in the company of One "who had waited so long for me". A characteristic topic of her meditation was "Jesus: to know Him better, so as to love Him more and more".
Blessed are the peacemakers ...
At the Canossian Convent in Schio, she was engaged in simple tasks in the kitchen, the needlework classroom, sacristy and as portress at the door. Enclosed, though she was, Bakhita's ready availability and her welcoming ways to all endeared her to the people.
She was ready to interpret actions of others in the best light possible and took reproaches of others respectfully.
Above all, she had made peace with her past.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted ...
For all who have been tried by conflict, war and oppression, Bakhita left us the legacy of comfort and hope in a providential Father. She joins those who, from generation to generation, have followed Christ through trial and tribulation, and who now take their place in the
Friday, February 1, 2008
When one looks at the way schools are being run today you have to weep at the absurdity of the Political Correct movement which has infiltrated many schools.
By educating your own children you are arming them to face the world and their future with confidence and a great deal of kowledge that many schools dont teach anymore, such as history.
These mothers are selfless in their devotion to educate their children as it should be done. I am also sure that many of these homeschooling mothers have moments of tiredness, they may feel run down and depleted yet they continue. That is courage. That is selflessness. It is love.
So please all blogger homeschool Mothers accept this bouquet for a job well done. Bravo to you all. YOU deserve it.
Anyone who visits this blog, please pass this Bouquet to All homeschooling Moms. I have chosen the links below because they are wonderful blogs who will spread the word to homeschooling Moms.
Peace & JOY to you all.
And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?